Shadow Canyon (N Scale)

This was the first N scale layout I ever built and it predates Rail Tales. I began this as a demonstration project way back in 2002 when I was the hobby manager of the Comic Game Hobby Place. When I left employment there, the layout languished in storage at my house for years until I came back to work for Cville’s Hobbies, Games, and Toys. At that point, I needed a demonstration piece for layout construction and undertook to finish the layout.

This began life as a 24″ x 48″ foam base to which I added 2″ in each dimension to accommodate extra scenery along the edge. It represents western Colorado in the territory of the Denver & Rio Grande Western, so those are the trains I run on it. The time period is roughly 1950.

The track plan is a simple oval with spurs but the spurs cross to make an interesting pattern that allowed for some dramatic scenery. The canyon is deep and when I was originally trying to take photos, it was in shadows, hence the name ‘Shadow Canyon’.

I used Atlas code 80 sectional track but painted and heavily ballasted it to the point that most observers think it’s code 55 flex. The original roadbed is Instant Roadbed in N scale which is no longer available. Cork would have worked just as well.

The current control system is conventional with block wiring because of the difficulty of converting the steam locomotives to DCC. The turnouts have Tortoise slow motion machines. There are two working signal lights and several structures have interior lights as well.

The scenery was done in two stages nearly 10 years apart but most of what you see is a mix of castings and Sculptamold. The castings were original and the Sculptamold the modern addition. I used castings in the canyon also because one can’t really access it for carving very well.

The colors of the rocks and foliage and the pattern of the foliage was all taken from reference photos of the area. Reference photos are vital when modeling a place you haven’t personally visited and they are useful even if you have been there.

The river is Woodland Scenics Realistic Water and Water Effects. This was the first time I’d used either product and it took a few tries to get a look I liked. There are a couple of ‘other rivers’ in places under the one you see that I painted and poured over…

Except for the steel bridges, every structure on the layout is wood. Majestic Hardware (Bar Mills), the General Store (Blair Line), the Drug Store (Salunas Tavern by Bar Mills), and the Gas Station (Blair Line) are all kits. Majestic Hardware and the Drug Store (Salunas Tavern) were modified somewhat but the others were built stock. Union Stockyard Office and the Ranch House were made from Blair Line kits. The stockyard itself was kitbashed. The Mine, the Office building, the cow barn, and the Storage building were all scratchbuilt. The trestle and the truss bridge were scratchbuilt as well.

The rolling stock includes a dozen freight cars and two locomotives (only one shown), all of which have been weathered to match the layout.

This layout is on display at the store but is not for sale.

We can build a similar layout for approximately $5500 including two locomotives and 15 cars appropriate to the local industries plus a backdrop and control system. We need 60 days notice prior to delivery.


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